GOC consults on voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers

3 August 2015
Source: The General Optical Council

The GOC has today launched a consultation on a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers to make it safer for people to buy contact lenses online.

The draft code of practice is designed to improve the practice of online contact lens suppliers and encourage people who buy online to have regular aftercare appointments and eye examinations.

Similar to other online health channels, suppliers who sign up to the code will be able to display an endorsement logo, making it easier for the public to find online suppliers who follow good practice.

Alistair Bridge, GOC Director of Strategy, said: “The draft code of practice will make it much easier for people to buy contact lenses online safely.

“A key feature of the code is that it emphasises the crucial role of optometrists and contact lens opticians in managing patients’ eye health. When people buy their contact lenses online it’s essential that they still see their eyecare practitioner regularly to avoid putting the health of their eyes at risk.”

Rob Hogan, GOC Council member and chair of the stakeholder steering group on contact lens supply, said: “I’ve been really impressed with the way that stakeholders from the optical sector and beyond have come together with such a strong focus on improving public protection.

“The draft code of practice draws on the independent research commissioned by the GOC to improve public protection and I’m particularly pleased that the code covers the substitution of contact lenses, which can create risks to the public in some circumstances. Substitution is not covered by the law as it stands and this really shows the value of a code of practice that can adapt more easily to sector developments.”

The draft code of practice has been drawn up by a stakeholder group from across the sector. It includes representatives from consumer groups, optical representative bodies, education providers and retailers and online suppliers. The full list of members is available at https://www.optical.org/en/news_publications/news_item.cfm/goc-holds-first-illegal-practice-stakeholder-group-meeting

The GOC is consulting on the draft code from 3 August to 12 October 2015.

The voluntary code forms part of the GOC’s strategy for tackling illegal practice in the optical sector. This involves continuing to handle complaints in line with its prosecution protocol, collaboration with other enforcement bodies to address high-risk areas of illegal practice, guidance for the public on the safe purchase and use of contact lenses and the development of a voluntary code of practice for online contact lens suppliers.

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